By A Correspondent- The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) reportedly has refused to release a copy of the voters roll for analysis by independent watchdogs such as the Election Resource Centre (ERC), raising fears that the elections management body wanted to hide something.
Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, ERC director Barbara Dube said the elections watchdog has made several requests to no avail.
“In conformity with section 21 of the Electoral Act, ERC requested electronic copies of the current voters roll and the roll that were used for the parliamentary by-elections. To date, ERC has not been provided with the electronic copies of either the current voter roll that were used for the March 26 by-elections,” Dube said.
Zec chief elections officer Uitloile Silaigwana requested questions in writing when contacted for comment, but had not yet responded by yesterday evening.
Zec spokesperson Jasper Mangwana was not picking calls.
However, the ERC said it was forced to analyse a publicly available voters roll following Zec’s refusal and unearthed a number of irregularities.
Some of the irregularities include deletion of 98 414 registered voters from 16 constituencies who appeared in the 2018 voters roll and creation of additional polling stations under unclear circumstances.
“There is no explanation why there were more than 98 000 people deleted from the voters roll,” ERC programmes manager Solomon Bobosibunu added.
“We have also had incidents of some people claiming that their names have been deleted from the voter roll yet they are still alive.
“Without Zec having explained to us why it deleted those people from the roll, we remain with those speculative reasons on why it deleted them.”
Early this year, Zec triggered a storm after announcing plans to remove 35 085 names of deceased persons from the voters roll, two months after identifying only 22 000 deceased voters on the roll.
An ERC analysis shows that there are 75 524 electorates who are registered to vote at the same polling station on the voters roll, but also registered at different polling stations. ERC said the problem was prevalent in urban polling areas.
The analysis also exposed how registrants who appearing at different polling locations on the 2022 voter roll, but their addresses did not change.
“In some cases, there may be explanations for issues identified and in others, there may be steps that can be taken to address these issues in advance of the major electoral events including the 2023 harmonised elections,” Dube said.
“ERC will continue to request Zec to provide official periodic and timely copies of the voter roll at important junctures (including the end of both phases of the voter registration blitz), at the commencement of the delimitation of boundaries.”
Other election watchdogs, which include Team Pachedu, have also unearthed similar irregularities on the voters roll.
But Zec disowned the voter roll that was being analysed, claiming that the document was obtained without following procedures and was heavily tampered with to discredit the country’s electoral processes.